Abidemi Rufai, former aide to Ogun State Governor, has been sentenced to five years in prison for fraud.
In May 2021, Rufai was arrested at JFK Airport in New York while making route to Nigeria. A year later, he acknowledged to using stolen identities to obtain thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
He was alleged to have acknowledged to obtaining personal data on more than 20,000 Americans, filing $2 million in claims for federal assistance in the event of a disaster and other benefits, and receiving more than $600,000 since 2017.
The Washington State Employment Security Department was the target of the largest scam, according to US officials; it resulted in payments of $350,763 in false pandemic unemployment claims to accounts under Rufai’s control.
Rufai is also alleged to have filed false pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 additional states, including Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.
The Assistant US Attorney said that Rufai’s fraud harmed real people who were in need of help; and requested a sentence of over six years in prison.
“In this case, Rufai successfully used the stolen identities of at least 238 real individuals who qualified for disaster aid and may have needed it urgently. This number does not account for the number of stolen identities Rufai attempted to use but failed,” she said.
In his ruling on Monday, US district judge Benjamin H. Settle blamed Rufai’s action on greed and callousness.
“The motivation was greed, unrestrained greed, and a callousness towards those who have suffered,” he said.
On his part, US attorney, Nick Brown, said Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use the stolen identities of Americans for fraud.